In my first lesson for beginners I talk a bit about character themes. But what exactly are character themes? Simply put, they are an encompassing feel for your character. It is the general qualities that define your character. However, these don’t have to nail your character down exactly. Think of them as a blanket statement for your character. What are some examples of character themes? Well, let’s take a look.
The Sage is the old man of tales that tells tales himself. He has a wealth of knowledge; regardless of whether he wants to share it with others. He usually acts as the voice of reason, but there are fringe cases where too much knowledge drives one mad.
The rogue, the pirate, the street rat; these are but a few examples of a scoundrel. As mischievous as he is cunning, the scoundrel can get himself out of trouble as easily as he can get himself into it. But good or bad, the journey will always be fun for him.
Glory in battle, at any costs. That is the way of the berserker. He revels in battle, gleefully chopping any enemy in his path. Although he is a monster on the battlefield, the berserker need not try to make every fight a physical one. In fact, most berserkers are calm and collected until their rage is brought forth. Then the beast is unleashed.
The protagonist of his own story, the hero will selflessly sacrifice himself for anyone in need. This is the type of character that heralds the story, reaching out to help wherever he can, often only for the reward of knowing a job is well done.
The flip side of the hero’s coin, the anti-hero is just as likely to help, but at a cost. This is the type of character that will grab the town’s food on the way to save said town. Although his methods may be questionable, the anti-hero’s deeds speak for themselves.
These are only a few examples of themes that you can choose for your character. Now that we’ve defined character themes, the question is: how do you pick one? Think about your character. Ask yourself what their personality is, how they handle situations, what they’re good at. If you’re having trouble, think of a character from a movie or video game that resembles what you want for your character. Use them as inspiration for your character’s traits. Once you’ve defined the major traits of your character, you’ve got yourself a theme! Once you have a theme for your character, you can develop the details of him. But that is a lesson for another day. Until then, keep those dice rolling high!